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Remember When Vince Gill Was a Pop Singer?

Vince Gill is one of the most celebrated country artists of his generation, but did you know that prior to launching his country career, he scored a Top 10 hit in the pop charts?

The year was 1980, and things were changing for a country-rock band called Pure Prairie League. The group had scored a hit with a song called “Amie” in the mid-’70s, but their fortunes had been up and down since then, with multiple lineup changes.

In 1978 the group recruited a then-little-known singer and multi-instrumentalist to bring new blood into the group. Vince Gill had previously played in a bluegrass group called Mountain Smoke, as well as Boone’s Creek, which also featured another struggling young picker named Ricky Skaggs.

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In 1980, Pure Prairie League signed a new deal with Casablanca Records and released Firin’ Up, which showcased a new, more slickly-produced pop sound.

The album’s first single was “Let Me Love You Tonight,” which featured Gill on lead vocals, and sax solos from David Sanborn. The song became PPL’s biggest chart hit, reaching No. 10 in the pop charts and No. 1 in adult contemporary.

Gill departed the band in 1982. He released his first country solo album, Turn Me Loose, in 1984, but it was his fourth album — 1989’s When I Call Your Name — that launched him as one of the leading lights in country music. He has since gone on to win virtually every music award imaginable, and is a member of both the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

See Vince Gill and Other Country Stars as Kids

NEXT: Remember When Kacey Musgraves Competed on 'Nashville Star'?

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